Editor’s note: This article and headline have been updated.
Far-left Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is reportedly working remotely instead of appearing at U.S. Supreme Court in person because fellow Justice Neil Gorsuch refuses to wear a mask in court, as requested by Chief Justice Roberts.
This report came on Tuesday from National Public Radio – but has now been denied by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The normally docile Supreme Court has recently seen a series of fissures between liberal and conservative justices — and among the conservative justices themselves. https://t.co/KsGtDi8ngW
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) January 18, 2022
Gorsuch Refuses To Mask
“It was pretty jarring earlier this month when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court took the bench for the first time since the omicron surge over the holidays,” NPR reported. “All were now wearing masks.”
With one notable exception.
“All, that is, except Justice Neil Gorsuch,” NPR noted. “What’s more, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not there at all, choosing instead to participate through a microphone setup in her chambers.”
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The report mentioned Sotomayor’s particular health situation.
“Sotomayor has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death, from COVID-19,” the report observed. “She has been the only justice to wear a mask on the bench since last fall when, amid a marked decline in COVID-19 cases, the justices resumed in-person arguments for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.”
Nina Totenberg reports that (1) the Chief Justice asked his colleagues to mask up out of respect for Sotomayor’s health concerns, (2) only Gorsuch refused, and (3) his refusal forced Sotomayor to participate in arguments and conference remotely. https://t.co/DmsQV8j7Wz pic.twitter.com/7JG5hMN0q7
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 18, 2022
NPR: ‘Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked’
Sotomayor apparently feels uniquely at risk around unmasked people not only because of her health, but her close proximity to Gorsuch on the bench.
NPR continued, “Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.
“They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench.”
Gorsuch’s decision not to wear a mask has meant that Sotomayor has been joining the court remotely by phone.
The initial report by NPR caused quite a bit of contention among journalists.
The New York Times’ Supreme Court reporter reported that both Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor denied that Sotomayor had requested that Gorsuch wear a mask – leaving some to point out that NPR did not report that Sotomayor had made the request, but Chief Justice Roberts.
NEW: A statement from Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch:
“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”
— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) January 19, 2022
In a further twist, the Washington Posts’ Supreme Court reporter notes that Chief Justice Roberts has now denied that he ever requested masks.
MORE JUST IN on Maskgate, this time from the Chief Justice: “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
— Robert Barnes (@scotusreporter) January 19, 2022
As of 2:40pm Eastern, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg has not made any comment to clarify her report.
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